Churches call for Pakistani Government to lift state of emergency

The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and the United Reformed Church made the following statement today in relation to the constitutional crisis in Pakistan :-

'While we welcome the announcement by President Pervez Musharraf to hold a general election in January we call on the Government of Pakistan for an immediate lifting of the current state of emergency.

'Over the past year a range of groups and faith-based partners in Pakistan have shared with us their increasing anxiety over damage to democratic process and the independence of the judiciary. We support the call of many for the restoration of democratic process in Pakistan; for the reinstatement of the Supreme Court judges; for General Musharraf to step down as the chief of the Army staff; for impartial oversight of elections; for the release of political prisoners and for an end to harassment of journalists.

'Security can only be achieved in an environment in which people are able to exercise their democratic rights and we call on the UK Government and international community to urge the Government of Pakistan to take all measures necessary to enable free and fair elections. We continue to hold the situation in our prayers and listen carefully to many in Pakistan who earnestly desire peace, security and stability.'

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